Having eczema is not only stressful for the entire family, but is also related to lower self-esteem for children with severe eczema. The constant itch and scratching, lack of good sleep may also deter children from concentrating on certain activities they like. Would these affect our kids and how can parents inspire our kids to a fulfilling life, despite the eczema. For this month’s Friday Q&A, I’m honored to introduce you to Dr Rosina McAlpine, who is a mother and an Associate Professor at the University of Sydney, with a masters and PhD in education. She has developed the Inspired Children Program and won numerous national and international awards for her teaching and research work.
Life Skill for our Children: Communications & Relationships
There’s much talk about building Emotional Intelligence for our child – just writing these few words are already stressing me out! It’s like how can a parent be expected to teach the child something that he or she is still learning and figuring out! Ok, granted, I’m a bit extreme but the thought that I am responsible for my child’s EQ and therefore success seems to be overwhelming. And parents of eczema children don’t have it easy – apart from the additional work to take care of our child’s skin, we have to take extra care of the home and the diet. We have to watch out for the scratching, lose sleep to manage the scratching and soon become a tight wire ourselves! (I’m already getting a headache at this point, just typing these!)
Marcie Mom: Dr Rosina, in our first Q&A, we’ve covered building the self-esteem of our child; so for this week, I’d like to focus more on what the parent can do, despite the expansive efforts needed to manage eczema, to create a less stressful home environment?
Dr Rosina: I imagine that stress is not helpful for children who suffer eczema and that it might even aggravate their skin condition. There are many things parents can do to create a less stressful home environment but the most important is to S-L-O-W down. Hurrying yourself and your kids only adds to the stress and puts kids into fight or flight response where you are not able to reason with them.
I also think it is so important to take time out to play and relax. When parents or children are stressed they are much more reactionary and easy to anger. Proactively helping children learn to relax and to play would be a great support both physically and emotionally and reduce stress and anger in the home. It doesn’t take long – 10-15 mins a day. If you can’t manage that take 5 mins!
Play a game together, take a walk in nature, give each other a massage or relax together and listen to some soft music. For more ideas here is a link to eight blog posts on how to take time out to relax and play with children
Marcie Mom: Dr Rosina, I read on your website that anger is also important to manage properly and a skill to teach our child. I’d think that parents of eczema child may get angry more often – imagine poor sleep, getting criticized for the child’s eczema flare when you’ve got nothing to do with it and eczema children may also get angry when they keep hearing ‘NO Scratching!” from their parents or that their skin rashes make them singled out by bullies.
Is there an exercise that you think is suitable for eczema families to practice so that they can manage their anger and temper better and engage in more relaxing and loving communications with each other?
Dr Rosina: There are two aspects here: 1 is being able to play and relax which we talked about previously – don’t under estimate how important that is in relation to managing anger. If parents and children are relaxed and enjoying themselves they are less likely to anger in the first place. The second is then managing the anger – because it is a normal part of life to get angry form time to time! The key is whether we manage our anger in a way that is harmful to others and ourselves or whether we manage it in a positive way.
In my Personal Power Life Skills Home Activity Book, I have 4 activities parents can share with their children on gaining this internal control. They are all about understanding and claiming personal power in relation to anger, sadness, jealousy and happiness. I have made the Claiming Personal Power In Relation to Anger Activity available for free on my website for your readers to access.
Here is the link, I hope parents and children find this helpful!
MarcieMom: Thank you so much Dr Rosina – I read the activity and it really got me thinking about how I feel during the day! Certain days I get angry with my husband, my toddler, my you-name-it but no one can actually make me angry if I don’t allow it. Wonderful lesson to teach ourselves and our children! And not forgetting your special effort to make the activity available on your website for my readers, thank you!